Multi-Rater/360 Degree Feedback Assessment Tools: Alternatives to Pitfalls


For far too long, managers have tolerated a variety of outdated performance measurement actions in business.

One approach, familiar to many, involves engaging employees in reviewing one another through a multi-rater or 360° feedback process.

We can define 360° feedback, also as, multi-rater feedback or multi-source assessment; feedback (typically performance focused observations) initiates from members of an employee's immediate work circle. Most often, 360° feedback includes an employee's peers (colleagues), supervisors’ subordinates, team members or various members of leadership, in some cases, even customers and vendors.

Regardless, the intent of this process and many others in performance management is to achieve better - better service, better outcome, better process, better metrics, whatever “better” means in your organization.

While 360° feedback has become widely accepted as a corporate performance management tool, it is a tool of yesteryear. There is a far better way to increase employee engagement and effectiveness without requiring employee A to judge employee B, C and D. Below are four ways 360° feedback falls short, followed by four ways in which managers can address roadblocks to these primitive behaviors.

1.) The amenity brews skepticism. When I am skeptical I am less likely to collaborate, troubleshoot or push to advance business outcomes.

► Provide a platform in which all team members engage and contribute the same amount of time: thought, documentation and delivery in improving results.

2.) The process prohibits collaboration among workers. When peers remain anonymous with their comments on your performance, advancing the outcome takes longer.

► Table the topics, encourage and solicit employee viewpoints relative to how work is completed within the position, team, department and/or the business. Conduct this exercise within a framework that rewards innovative thoughts and collaboration among employees.

3.) Feedback is not tied to a specific outcome. When we don’t connect feedback to a desirable outcome the effort lacks worth or meaning. Like a fish out of water or a vine without a branch, it has no life.

► Comprehending the big picture and purposefully identifying a specific outcome strengthens collaboration and quality discussion among individuals and teams.

4.) Feedback provided in the 360° process reveals more about the giver than it does for the receiver, Marcus Buckingham quoted in a recent blog.

► Increase trust and clarity, foster relationships, increase accountability and reward collaboration among staff. Raise the bar on what is expected to team.

It’s time for change!

Kathryn Weber, PHR / SHRM-CP, represents Strategic Solutions in Performance Management - a Southeastern Wisconsin-based business that specializes in advancing individual, team and business results. Weber and her team facilitate on-site programs that create an innovative team building strategy - directly connecting employee engagement with business results through the Framework for Improving Teamwork (FIT) Program. Learn more about Kathryn and FIT here. Or send her an email at

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